Teatime treats

Helen Vardy of the cafe at historic Waxham Barns introduces some of her home made treats that go down well with the visitors

2017 will be my 10th year at Waxham Barn Cafe. It’s long hours and hard work, but every morning, I walk through the courtyard and feel lucky to be a part of the history of this amazing site. There is no other building comparable in the county: impressive, imposing – and free to visit.

As this stretch of coast gets busier, Waxham village has managed to keep its rural charm and attracts many visitors who like to leave to modern world behind and soak up the quiet atmosphere. Our site is just ten minutes’ walk from the beach or costal path, past our peaceful, local church, St. John’s. 

The cafe menu is compiled of simple, fresh ingredients, locally sourced wherever possible. Our suppliers include Broadland Ham, Breckland Orchard and Cooks Farm Shop at Ingham. We have our free range eggs delivered from the farm, next door. We have a small kitchen garden, and grow some of our own herbs and vegetables, like courgettes, onions, beetroot, potatoes, chives and parsley. 

The cafe is open from Easter until October, 10:30am to 4pm, every day except Wednesday. 

The Barn itself is sometimes closed to visitors when hired for private functions – check norfolkhistoricbuildingstrust.org.uk for details.

Best selling, simple, soup recipes

Fresh vegetable soup is an easy, tasty and filling way to enjoy a healthy lunch and our recipes are very popular. All our soup is vegan, gluten free and dairy free.

I see most recipes as fluid; exact quantities are not always necessary when it comes to soup. Don’t neglect that spare onion, pepper or carrot. Use what you have and cut down on the waste. The secret is to taste often, whilst cooking and tailor the ingredients to your needs. 

Carrot and Courgette
This has a unique flavour and is my personal favourite;
3 large carrots
3 large courgettes
2 large onions
Stock and coconut milk to taste.

Roughly chop the vegetables, cover with water in a pan.

Add your favourite stock powder or paste. (I use 2 teaspoons of vegetable bouillon.)

Bring to the boil and simmer until soft. 

I sometimes remove some of the water at this stage; I like my soup to be thick and hearty. Blend until smooth.

Stir in the coconut milk to taste. (I use 2 tablespoons.)

Sweet Potato and Roasted Pepper

I simply cannot make too much of this! It is a customer and staff favourite.

3 mixed peppers

2 large onions

1kg of sweet potatoes 

Stock and coconut milk to taste. 

Half and de-seed the peppers, drizzle with a little oil and roast in the oven at 160 degrees Celsius for approximately 25 minutes.

Peel and roughly chop the potatoes and onions, cover with water, add stock to taste, bring to the boil and then simmer until soft. You may wish to remove some of the water, at this stage. Add the roasted peppers, blend until smooth and stir in the coconut milk.

Vegetable Chilli

Shopping and chopping are the hardest parts of this recipe!

I large, chopped onion

175g green lentils

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsps vegetable oil 

1 red and 1 green pepper, chopped

2 carrots, grated

1 courgette, chopped

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 heaped tsp tomato purée

300ml vegetable stock

100g frozen peas

175g chopped mushrooms

1 tin red kidney beans

Salt and pepper to taste.

Soak the lentils in boiling water for 30 minutes, then drain.

Gently fry the onion, garlic, chilli powder and cumin in the oil for approximately 10 minutes. Add all the other ingredients except mushrooms, courgette and beans.

Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for a further 10 minutes. 

(Try not to over-cook the chilli; the vegetables should still have a little crunch.)

If you’re feeling decadent, you can serve this topped with a handful of grated cheese! Delicious and good for you. 

Banana and Caramel Cake

This is an Australian recipe that I’ve adapted to make it gluten and dairy free.

I’ve been written it out for customers many, many times!

2 large bananas, (the older, the better) mashed

125g vegetable oil

150g caster sugar

200g self-raising gluten free flour (I use rice flour)

2 large eggs

1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda (don’t be tempted to use a different raising agent!)

For the icing;

25g dairy-free spread

30g soft, brown sugar

1 tbsp soya milk

60g icing sugar 

This cake can be mixed by hand, but is best done by machine! Whisk together, throughly, all the cake ingredients: the mixture needs lots of air bubbles to make the sponge light. Pour into a greased, lined tin (9inch, round) and bake for approximately 35 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius. The sponge will be very dark, in colour. Don’t be tempted to take it out of the oven too early, use a cake tester, if necessary. 

The cake must be cold, before you ice it.

Melt the spread, brown sugar and soya milk, gently, in a pan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sieved icing sugar until smooth. Spread the warm icing over the cake. 

Lime and Coconut Cake 

This is a twist on the classic lemon drizzle cake; substitute lime for lemon and add coconut. Simple! 

110g margarine 

150g caster sugar

175g self raising flour, sifted

2 large eggs

2 tbsp milk 

1tsp baking power 

Grated zest from 1 lime 

35g desiccated coconut 

For the icing;

Juice of the lime

40g icing sugar

15g desiccated coconut

A hand blender is best to mix all the cake ingredients together until smooth and pale in colour. Pour into a greased, lined tin. (9inch round) and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for approximately 30 minutes. The cake should be well risen and browned. 

Ice the cake while it is still warm.

Mix the lime juice with the icing sugar – pop this mixture into the microwave for about 15 seconds. It should be liquid enough to pour and spread over the hot cake. (If your lime is not very ‘juicy’, use 2 or add some lemon juice.) 

Sprinkle over the remaining coconut, immediately.